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How To Save Money By Having A Living Will

Updated on September 2, 2012

How Having a Living Will Can Save You Money

Outlining a living well is a simple task but one that many people, especially seniors, put off. Why? Because no one likes to think about dying.

Do you think it's possible to save money by simply having a living will in place? You bet!

Consider the alternative to not having a living will in place.

If you have a sudden catastrophic event such as a stroke or a heart attack, bystanders or family members will call for an ambulance and you will be transported to the nearest appropriate emergency room.

There, you will be poked and prodded in order to diagnose your condition and what event has transpired. That's all well and good, but let's say that it is a catastrophic brain hemorrhage as a result of a stroke. There is absolutely no hope of recovery of brain function and you have no reasonable expectation of ever regaining quality of life.

Would you want to be kept alive in that scenario? Would you think that maybe there was a miracle just around the corner and it could happen to you? It could but by and large, the fact is that in some cases, there simply is no hope.

Would you want to be incurring all those medical expenses simply because you didn't have a living will?


Because the medical profession is sworn to revive you, do everything they possibly can to keep your heart beating and you alive.

That includes but isn't limited to intubation (inserting a tube down your throat so that you can breathe and hooking you up to a ventilator), massive injections of drugs to keep your heart beating, drugs to increase or decrease your blood pressure and pulse and thus keep you alive, various tubes and catheters to measure your input and output and give you intravenous fluids, medicines, perhaps antibiotics, and drugs to keep you comfortable, drugs to keep you pain free, and drugs to feed you.

Again, their job is to keep you alive.

But what if you didn't want that? What if you'd made mention to people or family members that you didn't want these heroic measures in the event of a catastrophic event?

Without such things as living wills or advance directives, treating physicians cannot (and will not) just let you die!

So how to prevent this from happening in the future? Simple answer.....draw up a living will!


A living will is a legal document that defines your wishes specifically should something catastrophic occur. It covers such things as

  • Devastating stroke with a brain hemorrhage
  • Terminal illness with no hope of recovery
  • Massive heart attack
  • Medical situations where there simply is no hope for meaningful recovery
  • Severe trauma such as car accidents or other accidents


  • Will you accept treatment with antibiotics and under what circumstances?
  • Will you accept intravenous fluid administration to keep your blood pressure up?
  • Will you accept medications to slow your heart rate or speed it up or raise your blood pressure or lower it....all things that can happen with acute life-threatening situations?
  • Will you accept electrical shock to bring you back?
  • Will you accept blood products?
  • Will you accept blood thinners or other anti-thrombotic drugs?
  • Will you accept being intubated and put on a breathing machine?
  • Will you accept CPR in the event that you code or have a cardiac arrest?
  • Will you prefer to have all life support measures withdrawn if you are diagnosed to be incurable or in a state where you have absolutely no chance of recovery?
  • Will you accept comfort care measures such as oxygen and morphine to be kept comfortable until you die?

The whole point of a living will is meant to be explicit in things you will accept and things you will not accept.  Some states divide it into a DNR (do not resuscitate) order as well. 

Being specific about what things you will allow to keep you alive and things you won't makes it crystal clear to health providers (and family and friends).


  • A living will is a legal document and in order to make sure that you have the best possible chance of your wishes being carried out, you can see an attorney and find out how to have a living will drawn up. Or you can download forms on the Internet but they will need to be witnessed and notarized.
  • The bad news is that a living will in one state may not be transferrable to another state and they may not honor it! If you visit another state or move to another state, or even if you spend half the year in one state and the other half in another, it's important to know what to do about your living will. Only your attorney can tell you.
  • A living will is a legal document that needs to be witnessed by 2 people and it should notbe signed by people who could benefit from your death, meaning friends, people mentioned in your will or family members. Even your doctor or his staff should not sign living wills. You also need the living will notarized.
  • You can also post your living will to become a state record so that anyone would be able to verify whether or not you have a living will before starting live-saving procedures. (Call any attorney's office for more information on living wills)
  • It's also a good idea to have a copy of your living will in all of your doctors' charts.
  • Even more important, have a copy in the possession of at least one family member. Too often, a tragic event occurs and the person is transported to the hospital. While the personnel are trying to locate a living will, they are required by law to do everything they can do to save your life. So your living will may all be for nothing because they never saw it.....they just performed thousands of dollars worth of procedures on you and did everything you did not want done and all because they did not have their hands on your legal document. This happens every day.
  • Make sure someone in your family knowsyour deepest wishes but again, has the paper to back it up.
  • Make sure that the document is stored where it is the video points out, notin a safe deposit box!
  • You can have multiple people who have a copy of your living will or you can also think about setting up what's called a power of attorney or a health proxy.


A power of attorney is someone who has a legal right to speak for you - through again a legal document which is witnessed by 2 people and also notarized.  This piece of paper/document allows the person who is appointed as POA (power of attorney) to act on the behalf of the person suffering the catastrophic event.  There are also POA's for temporary situations or people who are unable to care for themselves.

In the scenario of a catastrophic event, the POA has the capability of producing your living will and making sure that your express wishes are carried out to the letter.  So if you have signed a living will stating no intubation or artificial life support, the medical personnel cannot do this. 

It should be noted that in drawing up a living will, you can be as extreme or as liberal as you want.  For instance, you can say you want antibiotics in this case or don't want it in another case.  You can say that you want CPR but you do not want intubation or a ventilator.  It's as broad as you, the person/patient, want to make it. 

Taking time to consider what your true wishes are and not those of your family and friends is really vital to your mental health because after all, it is YOUR living will and your wishes should be the ones that are carried out. 

How Can a Living Will Save You Money?

  • An attorney can draw up either a living will or a power of attorney. Many people put this off because frankly they just don't want to deal with it.
  • Having a living will in place does take away the element of confusion if something catastrophic were to happen. It can also actually make things much simpler in terms of "letting go". It dispels much of the guilt that people feel when they are forced to make hard decisions in an emergency about someone they love. When it's in black and white, and the person's wishes are crystal clear, the guilt is gone.
  • Having a living will spells it out in literally for all to see. Take some time to think through what your wishes are and then draw up your living will and maybe a power of attorney. You'll rest better knowing that you have these things taken care of should it become necessary to access these documents.
  • You'll also have the peace of mind in knowing that you aren't being revived when there is no hope to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps being kept alive indefinitely on machines.
  • As blunt as it may sound, I would be furious if I was lying useless in a hospital bed with no hope of meaningful recovery while creating debt! Even if most of the expenses were covered by my insurance, there are still deductibles and things that are not covered and hundreds of thousands of dollars add up very quickly in a hospital setting!
  • For those who can't afford an attorney, there are forms available on various websites and books and information on the Internet like Lectlaw and in public libraries.

Don't let a catastrophe catch you or your loved ones by surprise. I've seen it happen all too often. The only way to avoid it is to have that living will in place and have someone you love and trust in the know on how to make sure it's used.


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